Hospital uses Wii for brain rehab

A Canadian hospital has started using the console to help patients with brain rehab and motor skills.

When you think of the brain and video games, you’re likely to picture Nintendo’s popular Brain Training series for the DS. And while the Brain Training games might help some people keep their minds sharp, another Nintendo product is being used for an even greater task: brain rehabilitation. According to the Edmonton Journal, the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital is the first in North America to use the Wii to help treat patients who suffer from problems with movement and balance.

Patients have progressed from their wheelchairs, unable to bend at the waist or pick up things from the floor, to stand and play in front of a TV screen, swinging a virtual golf stick, scoring a virtual bowling strike or knocking out an opponent in a boxing match.

Dr. Grigore Burdea, a world leader in computer-based virtual reality techniques in rehabilitation therapies, said in five years, he believes every hospital and rehab clinic will have embraced the gaming technology for their patients.

“It’s very ingenious,” Burdea said, in Edmonton to speak at conference on virtual rehabilitation. “This is pioneering work.”

Burdea said some hospitals have used the Wii gaming system to help boost and entertain patients during their hospital stay. But he said the Glenrose is the first hospital he knows of where occupational therapists are guiding patients through golf swings, tennis serves and baseball strikes to help them not only gain lost movement, but to teach their brains to respond quickly to fly balls or swinging fists.

“People are addicted to games, but in this case, the addiction is towards a good cause,” Burdea said. “Bill Gates (billionaire founder of Microsoft) would be wise to sponsor this kind of research.”


Related Links: Nintendo Australia